Atlanta Fed Cohosts CDFI Forum

The event CDFI Forum: Bank Partnerships discussed a number of topics affecting community development financial institution (CDFI) loan funds in Florida. Michael Swack from the University of New Hampshire kicked off the event by challenging the industry, in Florida, to find more opportunities for collaboration, including through shared systems that improve efficiencies and maximize impact. According to Professor Swack, "CDFIs should find creative ways to do what they do best and avoid doing what they don't."

Lisa Mensah, president of Opportunity Finance Network, shared recent data showing that nationally CDFIs have more than $135 billion in assets under management and have experienced tremendous, industry-wide growth. Mensah suggested that the industry would remain strong because it has bipartisan support. The challenge will be to continue to grow unrestricted net assets that will facilitate further expansion into underserved markets.

Annie Donovan, director of the CDFI Fund at the U.S. Treasury, pointed out that in Florida, among the 18 certified CDFI loan funds, the average fund size is $7 million and the median fund size is $2.3 million. Strategic partnerships may be necessary to support smaller loan funds in Florida.

In response to a series of presentations from regional industry leaders, Florida CDFI executives discussed plans for expanding their collective reach and impact in the state. Next steps include a possible follow-up strategy session at the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) conference in October or later in the year.